In the end this episode was really all about Lionel Luthor. Over the entire course of this series, Lionel has been a mystery to me. The Magnificent Bastard is clearly a genius, a master manipulator, a ruthless businessman, and a twisted father. With parenting like that, Lex never really had a chance. But wait, Lionel can also be fiercely loyal to and protective of his son. He killed his own parents. He's saved the lives of others on more than one occasion. He tried to kill Chloe. He's Jor-El's vessel. He tried to kill Lex. He's Martha's new BFF. He can't be trusted. He's Clark's ally. Is he a force for good or evil? Who knows?
John Glover enhances the confusion with his incredible performance, episode after episode. He makes you believe that all the different facets of Lionel can somehow, impossibly, coexist, and all be true. This week was no exception, as within the House of Luthor we saw the beginning of the fall of the father, and the rise of the son. As Lionel's world began to crack and spin out of control, his evil actions were at war with his compassion for Clark, and he was the definition of a tortured soul. And that's when it hit me. Lionel has been corrupted. Corrupted by good. He hesitates to follow his finely crafted, evil plan, and is lost forever. No longer able to make the heartless decisions that have always ensured his success, he fails utterly.
And as he falls away, Lex steps seamlessly into his place. Fully inured to the hurt and harm he leaves in his wake, he kills where Lionel can't, and becomes the new King. Along with our superhero, it appears we have our supervillain. I have chills, people.
Michael Rosenbaum was masterful as Lex Luthor in this episode. His performance was perfect, as we finally saw Lex use his intelligence and instincts to their full potential. Lex was in turns warm and charming, and then cold and ruthless. This week Lex stopped being his father's puppet and became instead the puppet master. The moment when Lionel tried to pull one of his old tricks, and derail Lex with a scornfully cutting remark, took my breath away. Because it didn't work! Lex barely paused, gave him a smirk, and then continued undeterred. Lex! I knew you had it in you! But dude, you're scaring me!
Lex has also acquired all the trappings of villainy. He's always had the sinister castle, and he's been wearing his trademark long, black jacket for awhile now (hot!), but recently he's added both lackeys and minions, and tonight we saw the coup de grace, the cold stare of a man who's letting his soul die inside of him, one day at a time. I mourn the loss of the Lex I've loved, but on the other hand, game on!
I enjoyed meeting Patricia Swann, and I was sorry she didn't survive the episode. She had a strength of spirit that was beautiful, and I think she helped Clark see himself through her eyes, as the hero she knew him to be. I loved the way she stood up to Lionel, but tragically she guarded herself against the wrong Luthor. She tried to use Lex as a pawn, and underestimating him proved fatal.
The Veritas storyline has me well and truly intrigued. Continuity abounds! Well, except for that new stained glass window, but I'm willing to overlook that. :) We first saw the Veritas symbol as a wax seal on the letter Lana so curiously examined in Lionel's office in Siren. Then, in Fracture, we saw little Alexander painting it on a toy warrior in one of Lex's memories. Later Lex examined the warrior, and for the first time noticed the matching symbol that has
This episode was very Old School Smallville. All the regular characters in tonight's episode, except for Kara, were also in the Pilot. It was fun to think about that fact as I reflected on how far each of the characters has come since that first episode, and how much all of them, and the show itself, have changed over the years. And Kara's presence has been an entirely welcome addition for me. I loved her coming to Clark's rescue as he lay on the floor of the cage, desperately reaching out to her. Their reunion was both tender and heartwarming. I wasn't crazy about Clark calling Lex a lost cause when he was talking to Kara in the barn, after he just said in Fracture that he would always look out for the good in Lex, but maybe that's just the recent trauma talking.
I actually liked Lana in this episode. She and Chloe made a great team. Lana knew Lex's secrets, and Chloe knew Clark's, and together they were able to retrieve Kara and put a rescue plan into action. Maybe it was the fact that Lana didn't have any scenes with Clark that won me over, though. :) And speaking of Chloe, how awesome was she?! Talk about a hero!! As soon as she found out that Clark was missing, she went into action and led the rescue charge, completely determined to do whatever it took to bring him home safely.
Chloe continues to shine as Clark's sidekick this season. Only she knew where to find the key. Only she possessed the investigative skills to see through Lionel's diversion and find where Clark was being held captive. Only she knew how to use the key to take Kara to the fortress. And in a moment that is destined to become legendary, a moment none of us will ever forget, only she could convince Jor-El to restore Kara's powers and memories. Because no words can adequately describe the feeling Chloe's impassioned plea evoked, let's just experience it again here:
"Jor-El! Out of all the planets across the universe, you decided to send your only son to this one, to Earth! You trusted us to protect him. Now, please, Jor-El, I need you to trust me. I love your son! He's in danger, and he needs our help!"
Allison Mack's delivery of this speech was beyond awesome, truly. And to top it all off, when Kara is once again super, we get just a hint of that famous music! That is the last we see of Chloe in the episode, but I can't stop thinking about her. Everything about her actions in this episode served to remind me that whether her friendship with Clark eventually becomes something more or not, this is the most important relationship in Clark's life right now, and without her, he wouldn't have survived the torment of this episode.
Okay, like dessert, I've saved the best for last. Could you believe Clark in this episode?!?! We start in the barn, where he is attacked and taken, and even armed with kryptonite, it takes at least a dozen commandos to bring him down. There's a true fight scene, a rarity on Smallville, and it's glorious! The next time we see Clark, he's imprisoned in a kryptonite-laced plexiglas cage, and his sadistic keeper, Pierce, tortures him with increasing levels of exposure, seemingly for his own entertainment. Clark never breaks, never begs. He is brave, strong, and steadfast in the face of impossible pain, and as heroic as I've ever seen him. And who knew he could look so gorgeous while he writhes in agony? :)
We soon learn Lionel is behind it all, and that he is prepared to use Clark as a bargaining chip in a power struggle with Patricia, but we also see him wrestle with the feelings he has developed for Clark, and in the end Pierce overpowers both Patricia and Lionel, and increases the kryptonite to lethal levels. Kara explodes into the building to save the day, Lionel kills Pierce, and Clark learns the depths of Lionel's betrayal. Their eyes meet and we know their alliance has come to an end. What will Clark do next?
And here's where we see just how far Clark has come. Remember the last time Clark thought Lionel had betrayed him, in Phantom, when he found out Lionel had forced Lana to marry Lex? Clark was completely out of control, and on the verge of killing Lionel when Martian Manhunter intervened. Well, that boy is gone, and with him his uncontrollable anger and reckless endangerment of human life. The man who goes to see Lionel in this episode is calm, logical, intelligent, and determined to uncover the truth. He is no longer ruled by his emotions, and no longer vulnerable to Lionel's lies and machinations. His anger is unmistakable (and hot!), but so is his control. He stands tall, resolute, and righteous, and he is every inch my hero. When Lionel claims to be a different man than in the past, one who is still worthy of Clark's trust, Clark considers, decides, and says, "No you're not." And walks away. Lionel may not have changed, but our boy sure has!
Tom is stunningly handsome in this episode, particularly at the end, in the warm yellow sunlight of the farm and the cool blue atmosphere of Lionel's office. He is once again rocking the Superman look with his short hair, piercing gaze, chiseled features, flawless skin, and impressive physique. What can I say? Even on a show with a ridiculous amount of pretty, the man stands out. What I truly appreciate about him, however, is the way he has come to embody this character. Witness his quiet dignity in his final scene with Patricia. This is the man who is my Superman.
Random thoughts: Did everyone figure out that Pierce was also the good cop from Obscura? And did all the Supernatural fans recognize Haley from Wendigo? Kara's fake yearbook page quote said, "I will be modeling this summer." When Lana said she would kill Lex, I believed her. Tom is directing the 150th episode, which will air on May 1, 2008. Yay!
So, do we all agree on this one? It was one of the good ones, right? :) I am totally pumped for the rest of the season! I'll see you back here next week for the final pre-strike episode. I can't wait, it's supposed to be huge!
P.S. On a completely personal note, remember how I told you guys that I'm named after St. Patrick? May I just express how thrilling it was to hear my name spoken by JG, MR, and TW, over and over again? *swoons* Okay, so I go by Tricia, and only my mother and one of my big brothers ever call me by my full name, but still. Thrilled. To my core. *is a dork*